An ultra-Orthodox Jew who was convicted a decade ago of stabbing people at a gay pride parade here repeated the crime on Thursday, this time wounding six people at the same event, witnesses and officials said.
The man, Yishai Schlissel, had been paroled only three weeks ago after his 12-year sentence for stabbing three other people and was well known in Israel for that, leading immediately to questions about why officials hadn’t been better prepared to prevent it.
The parade began, as it has every year for 13 years, with a cheerful, mellow gathering at Independence Park, across from the U.S. Consulate here, which adorned its outside wall with a banner reading “#Love Wins: The U.S. Consulate General proudly supports your right to love and live with dignity.” Scattered about were circles of drummers, crafts stands offering “pride body painting” and flags with the Star of David imposed upon the multicolored gay pride logo.
Minutes after marchers left the park for King George V street, one of Jerusalem’s principal arteries, Mr. Schlissel emerged from an alleyway and stabbed the six marchers.
A number of passersby subdued Mr. Schlissel during his attack before police arrived and arrested him. The attack left two people in critical condition—a female border police officer who was on duty and a 17-year-old girl. The others received light to moderate injuries and are being treated in two Jerusalem hospitals. After the attack, the march proceeded as planned.
Since his prison release, Mr. Schlissel has used numerous ultra-Orthodox online forums and WhatsApp groups to declare his intent to attack participants at the next gay pride parade.
In an interview after the event, Jerusalem police chief Chico Edry said the police had “no knowledge” of his intentions. He said Mr. Schlissel hadn’t been summoned by the police since his release or warned to keep away from the parade. Police weren’t immediately available to comment further.
Gay community leaders and parade participants accused Mr. Edry of overseeing a failure of intelligence.
Nick Kaufman, the Jerusalem prosecutor who prosecuted Mr. Schlissel in 2005, said on Thursday that “Schlissel argued he was divinely motivated. I was of the opinion that he was impulsively dangerous and the 12-year sentence imposed on him was an insufficient deterrent.”
Politicians of all stripes condemned the attack, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said from a visit in New York that it represented “an attack against a community, against the very special texture of Jerusalem and against the entire state.”
Economy Minister Arye Deri, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox party Shas, told Israel Army Radio, “It is a terrible thing, terrible.” Speaking as the event was still under way and ambulance sirens could be heard in the background, he added, “Nothing justifies violence.”
Asked by a reporter if he stood by his statement about a previous Jerusalem gay pride parade as being a “march of abomination,” Mr. Deri said that “followers of the Torah know the difference between words that condemn something we cannot approve of and an unspeakable act against innocent people.”
Sabi Shajylan, an antiquities dealer who attended a solidarity rally in Tel Aviv, said “this attack is a direct consequence the ongoing incitement in the ultra-Orthodox communities. Its the fruit of that tree.”
Although Israel doesn’t allow gay religious marriages, it recognizes same-sex unions. Major national institutions, including the Israeli army and all universities, don’t discriminate against gays, who enjoy the universal rights.